Most Oklahomans today have heard of meditation, but few have an accurate concept of what meditation really is. Perhaps we have seen movies or read books where a character uses meditation to “clear the mind” or to “empty the mind of all thoughts.”. For those of us who have tried to sit down and “clear the mind”, we immediately see the futility of such an endeavor. This is because the conscious mind will always have a focus, from the moment we wake up to the moment we fall asleep. By definition, consciousness is “consciousness of something”. Subject and object arise together and in that way are inseparable. One of the major aspects of mindfulness meditation is developing the ability to consciously place your mind on an object (typically the breath) and maintain that focus, or as they say “focus on the one thing, not the 10,000 things”.
Another aspect of mindfulness practice is that we begin to “observe the mind”. The unobserved mind is always making judgments and forming opinions, always labeling things and painting a picture of reality. This in itself is not a problem, but for most people, thinking has gotten completely out of hand and the typical person is completely possessed by the mind, unable to experience life directly. We are caught up in thoughts and guided by perceptions that are quite often incorrect. Because of this tendency to let our minds dominate our lives, we suffer in all sorts of ways. For most people, the vast majority of thinking is purely compulsive and serves no true purpose.